Peyton Anderson Foundation Awards $1 Million Grant to Fund Newsroom in Mercer’s Center for Collaborative Journalism


MACON — A $1 million grant from Macon’s Peyton Anderson Foundation will fund an innovative newsroom in Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism, a partnership involving the University’s Journalism and Media Studies Department, The Telegraph and Georgia Public Broadcasting.

About half of the 12,000 square feet of space the Center for Collaborative Journalism will occupy on the ground floor of Phase II of The Lofts at Mercer Village will be devoted to the newsroom. In recognition of the grant, it will be called the Peyton Anderson Newsroom. The Telegraph’s editorial staff will move into the newsroom in mid-August, about a week before Mercer’s fall semester begins.

The Center for Collaborative Journalism was announced last December when the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded $4.6 million in grants to fund the initiative, which brings the medical school model to the University’s journalism program. Mercer students and journalism faculty will work alongside professionals from The Telegraph and Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB Media) to learn and employ digital-age storytelling skills to meet Central Georgia’s information needs.

In coming years, the collaborative will launch community engagement projects that will involve Macon residents in choosing important issues to cover, reporting the facts, debating the choices facing them and ultimately creating solutions. GPB Macon Radio is using its portion of the Knight grants to expand its staff in Central Georgia over several years to increase the station’s coverage of news, business, arts, sports and culture. Last week GPB announced the appointment of Adam Ragusea, formerly of Boston public radio station WBUR, as new host of Morning Edition and site supervisor for GPB Macon Radio.

“We are deeply grateful to the trustees of the Peyton Anderson Foundation for funding the Center’s Peyton Anderson Newsroom, a key component of this nationally significant initiative in journalism education and community engagement,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood. “These two foundations – Knight and Peyton Anderson – have made it possible to launch the Center in new facilities designed to take full advantage of this unique partnership.”

“The trustees are especially pleased to be working alongside the Knight Foundation to support the establishment of the new Center for Collaborative Journalism at Mercer University,” said Karen Lambert, president of the Peyton Anderson Foundation. “The decision of the University to name the Center’s newsroom for Peyton Anderson seems a fitting tribute to Mr. Anderson, who was the face of journalism for many years in this region and whose generosity will continue to make Macon and institutions within Macon, such as Mercer University, stronger for years to come.”

“The fact that foundations established by the two previous owners of The Telegraph have joined together to fund this dynamic new initiative sends an incredibly powerful message about how vitally important it is that our community continues to receive the same high level of public service journalism that we have delivered for the past 185 years,” said Telegraph President and Publisher George McCanless. “I am excited about the role this Center will play in educating future journalists and in meeting the community’s information needs.”

The Center’s new home in Mercer Village will also include classrooms and faculty offices for the University’s Journalism and Media Studies Department. Tim Regan-Porter, the Center’s director, said having the working journalists, faculty and students housed in the same facility is important to realizing the initiative’s aspirations.

“Even with all of the communication tools available, there is no substitute for face-to-face collaboration,” Regan-Porter said. “Having students work and study in a daily newsroom fosters an energy, creative spirit and real-world knowledge acquisition that we believe will benefit students, The Telegraph, GPB and the community.”

“Knight Foundation is pleased to join with the Peyton Anderson Foundation to fund the Center for Collaborative Journalism at Mercer University,” said Beverly Blake, Macon program director for Knight. “This is the first time our two foundations have jointly funded a Central Georgia initiative, and it underscores the commitment of both foundations to seeing this important project succeed.”

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,300 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah – and four regional academic centers across the state. The Mercer Health Sciences Center launched July 1, 2012, and includes the University’s medical, nursing and pharmacy schools and will add a fourth college – the College of Health Professions – on July 1, 2013. Mercer is affiliated with four teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The University also has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. It operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program.